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rewster, Lawrence 

Short History of the Diocese of East 









A Short 
of the 
of East 












Historiographer, Diocese of East Carolina 

Professor Emeritus of History, East Carolina University 




First Bishop of the Diocese of East Carolina 



(1904- ) 
Fourth Bishop of The Diocese of East Carolina 



This summary of the history of the Diocese of East Carolina, drawn 
from a manuscript prepared by the author for a projected co-operative 
history of the Episcopal Church in North Carolina and papers read 
before various historical societies and other groups, was written to 
provide a basis for study by classes and individuals. It proceeds from a 
conviction that a knowledge of the Church's origins, organization and 
work at the national, diocesan and parochial levels is important to 
becoming a good Churchman and Churchwoman, whether one is 
young in the faith or grown old in it. With it goes an appeal for the 
collecting and preserving of historical materials and the writing of 
more parish histories. 

To the records that have been made available to me, to the histories 
that have been written, to Bishops Wright and Elebash, the Rev. L. P. 
Houston, and many others of the clergy and laity for their encourage- 
ment, to Mrs. Willard, Mrs. Walker and Mrs. Crowley at Diocesan 
House for their help, my indebtedness is gratefully acknowledged. The 
credit for bringing the writing into print belongs to Bishop Elebash, the 
Rev. Edwin B. Jeffress, Jr., and the Diocesan Bicentennial Committee. 

The documentation which is part of the original manuscripts is not 
included. Appended is a short list of recommended references. 

Lawrence F. Brewster 

Wilmington and Greenville 
December, 1975 


Preface v 

I. The Colonial Heritage: The Church of England (Anglican) 
in North Carolina, 1584-1776 

Colony Chaplains 1 

Proprietary Charter 1 

Legislative Acts 1 

The Establishment: A Day of Small Beginnings: 
Obstacles, Lag, The Zealous Few 2 

The Revolution and its Consequences: Disestablishment: 
Losses, Gains, Adjustments 6 

II. The Protestant Episcopal Church 

in the United States of America (1785-) 

and the Diocese of North Carolina (1790's; 1817-) 

General Conventions 7 

Convention Attempts in North Carolina (1790-1794) 
and Bishop-Elect Pettigrew 7 

A Diocese is Formed 8 

The First Four Bishops of North Carolina: 
Ravenscroft, Ives, Atkinson, Lyman 8 

Division of the Diocese 10 

III. The Diocese of East Carolina (1883-) 

Map of Diocese of East Carolina 12 

Primary Organizing Convention; 
Bishop Lyman as Overseer 13 

Bishop Watson's Soldierly Leadership, 1884-1905 13 

Bishop Strange's Brief but Challenging Tenure, 1905-1914 . 16 

Bishop Darst's Three Decades of 
Devoted Evangelical Service, 1915-1945 18 

Bishop Wright's Guiding Hand at the Helm during 
Entry into a New Age, 1945-1972 22 

Recommended References 29 





COLONY CHAPLAINS. The transit of the Church of England to 
the shores of what became North Carolina begins with the ministry of 
the chaplain of Sir Walter Raleigh's colony on Roanoke Island, 1584- 
1587. Included were the service of holy communion, prayers, and, in 
August of 1587, the baptism of the Indian Manteo and the white child 
Virginia Dare. Raleigh's colony became the so-called "Lost Colony" 
but the ventures of proprietors and merchants with royal encourage- 
ment continued. 

PROPRIETARY CHARTER. One royal grant was to the eight 
lords proprietors of Carolina. This charter of 1663 provided for 
religious toleration for the settlers but also for patronage and support 
of churches and clergy according to the ecclesiastical laws of England 
under the authority of the proprietors as delegated to governor and 
assembly. The authorities were slow to implement these provisions of 
the charter. No clergy of the Church of England were in the province. 
By default, dissenters, especially Quakers, got the advantage and a 
struggle, largely political, ensued between them and the Church 

LEGISLATIVE ACTS. The first law for the Establishment of the 
Church of England in North Carolina was passed in 1701. It provided 
for five parishes, each to have a vestry of twelve members, who were 
named in the act. These vestrymen were to elect two of their number as 
wardens to be responsible for building a church, securing a reader for 
services, and levying a tax on the tithables in the precinct as a source of 
revenue. Also assigned to the vestry were certain secular duties, such 
as the fixing of weights and measures, the care of the poor and of 
orphans. This act was disallowed by the proprietors because the power 
it gave to the vestry was considered too great and because the £30 it 
provided for the support of a clergyman was considered too little. 
However, the act was put into effect in Chowan Parish, out of which in 
the course of time there developed St. Paul's Church, Edenton. The 
Parish of St. Thomas, Pampticough (Pamlico), later Bath, may have 
been begun in 1701. 

Vestry acts of 1704-1705 and 1711 proved ineffective. Finally in 
1715, a law establishing the Church of England was passed and 
allowed to stand. Under this act some progress was made, but it was 
slow and the Establishment remained weak. Provision was made for 
seven parishes (two in Chowan Precinct, two in Pasquotank, and one 
each in Perquimans, Currituck and Hyde). The parish vestry would 
consist of the minister and twelve men appointed in the act. 
Vestrymen were required to take an oath that it was unlawful to take 
up arms against the king or to cast reflections upon the service of the 
Church of England; and they were subject to £3 fine for failure to 
attend vestry meetings. If a vestryman refused to serve, the remaining 
members were to elect a replacement; and if he refused, the 

"commander in chief of Government" was to elect a member. Two 
wardens were to be chosen by the vestry from their own ranks for a 
one-year term in rotation until all had served. Refusal to serve entailed 
a fine of thirty shillings. It proved to be difficult to get men to serve on 
the vestries and service was made compulsory. 1 The wardens and 
vestry were to endeavor to secure a minister qualified according to the 
laws of the Church of England at a salary of not less than £50 a year. 2 
The Rev. James Reed was voted this amount by the Assembly in 1755 
but did not always get it. The levy for the minister's salary was not to 
exceed five shillings per poll on all tithables or persons subject to tax, 
including males sixteen years or over and female slaves of the same 
age. Wardens and vestry were to purchase land for a glebe to build one 
church and one or more chapels and pay all parochial charges out of 
such gifts, goods and chattels as shall come to their hands for church or 
parish use. There was no provision for presentment and induction of 
ministers. This led to prolonged conflict between vestries and the 
governor and between the governor and the Bishop of London, a 
conflict that was eventually compromised. Nor was there any judicial 
authority over the clergy and the relation of the governor to the 
Church was not defined. 

Church of England in North Carolina was beset with difficulties from 
the start. One was the matter of personnel, both as to numbers and 
character. There never was a bishop in North Carolina or in any of the 
English colonies, and for an episcopal-type church this was an obvious 
and distinct handicap. There could be no confirmations of lay 
members and no ordination of clergy in the colony. Colonials desiring 
to enter the ministry of the Church had to make the long, somewhat 
hazardous and expensive trip to England for approbation and 
ordination by the Bishop of London, under whose episcopal jurisdic- 
tion the colonies had been placed. There never were enough 
clergymen, English or colonial, in the colony to minister to the 
extensive and multiplying parishes (by 1774, thirty-two had been 
created) and the growing population (46,000 — or was it 80,000) of 
whom some 18,000 were Anglicans. Anglican clergymen, in North 
Carolina for a time during the colonial period, numbered somewhere 
between thirty-three and fifty all told. Then, too, some of those who 
came were unworthy — and notorious — or remained for a very short 
stay. That, except for a comparatively few really dedicated souls, the 
best men rarely answered the call to give up preferment and 
perquisites at home to serve in the uncertain colonial environment is 

'In 1720 vestries were made self-perpetuating; in 1741 they were to be chosen 
biennially by the freeholders. An oath not to oppose the liturgy of the Church of 
England was required but absolute conformity was not mentioned. 

-In 1762 a minister was to have a salary of £133 sh 6 d 8 proclamation money together 
with a glebe and house. From 1715 Anglican clergy were exempt from militia duty. 

not to be wondered at; but it certainly added to the troubles of the 
Church in America. Partly because of the lack of a bishop and partly 
because of the conditioning influence of America on the thinking of the 
colonists, vestries, when they did function, became increasingly 
independent and preeminent. 

Besides the lack of sufficient personnel there was a shortage of 
adequate facilities for worship; that is, of churches and chapels. A 
number were built but few were completed or adequately maintained. 
As late as 1754 there were but five, of which only one was said to be in 
good condition. With some notable exceptions — Governors Walker, 
Dobbs and Tryon and a few other laymen — there was much apathy on 
the part of royal, provincial and parish officials in enforcing laws and 
performing functions. Both cause and effect of this was apathy among 
the people which handicapped the efforts of zealous Churchmen. 
Moreover, there was outright opposition to the Establishment of the 
Church on the part of a growing number of dissenters — Quakers, 
Baptists, Presbyterians, Lutherans, German Reformed, Moravians 
and Methodists. Although their role in the colony was not merely a 
negative one, they did fear the Church of England and resent the 
discriminations and disqualifications they were subject to, thereby 
complicating the situation for the Church in North Carolina. Probably 
this was less of a handicap than the apathy and mistakes of 
Churchmen themselves. As a consequence of all these difficulties the 
Establishment continued to lag throughout the colonial period. 

But that is not the whole story. Over against it must be set the more 
heartening account of the zealous efforts of those devoted clergymen 
and laymen, who despite great personal hardships labored to plant the 
seed and preserve the continuity of the faith among the people of North 
Carolina. Their services merit recognition and their names deserve to 
be remembered. 

Among the early missionaries sent by the Society for the Propaga- 
tion of the Gospel, the Rev. Messrs. James Adams, Giles Rainsford and 
Ebenezer Taylor stayed more than a few months and ministered 
faithfully. The Rev. John LaPierre, a Huguenot, moved from South 
Carolina to the Cape Fear in 1728 and to New Bern in 1735, from 
whence he continued to labor until his death twenty years later. Also 
from South Carolina, the Rev. Dr. Richard Marsden served in New 
Hanover and Onslow Counties. A member of the Governor's Council 
declared him to be "Ye best minister that I have heard in America" 
and also noted that in addition to Dr. Marsden's preaching on a cold 
day there was "a good fire in ye church to sit by". The first candidate 
for the Church's ministry from North Carolina was John Boyd, 
graduate of the University of Glasgow and a physician in Virginia. He 
went to London for ordination in 1732 and returned to serve North 
West Parish, Bertie County, and also as a missionary in Chowan and 
Brunswick. From about 1735, the year after the church building was 
begun, the Rev. John Garzia officiated at St. Thomas, Bath, and acted 
as missionary until his death in 1744. 

Already known as a man of "honour, diligence and fidelity", 
Clement Hall, landowner and local official of Perquimans County and 
lay reader in his parish, went to England and was ordained deacon and 
priest by the Bishop of London in 1744. He returned to North Carolina 
to serve for nearly fifteen years as rector of St. Paul's, Edenton, and as 
SPG missionary. Pending completion of the new brick parish church, 
he held services in the courthouse. 3 He was at St. Paul's two Sundays 
every month, going to other parts of the parish the other Sundays; and 
once or twice each year he went on missionary journeys "from the old 
settlements of Perquimans and Pasquotank to the distant frontier of 
Granville . . . baptizing infants and adults, catechizing the children, 
churching women, and administering the holy communion to the rude 
folk who learned to love and trust the holy man." And they came to 
hear him. "Everywhere he preached to such crowds that no house 
would hold them, but they were forced to seek the shelter of groves, 
where the birds were the choristers, and where, in the pauses between 
their music, they 'heard the bass of heaven's deep organ blow' ". 

Up to the year 1752 Hall reported that despite illness he had 
traveled 14,000 miles, delivered 675 sermons, baptized 5,783 white 
children and 243 Negro children, 57 adult whites and 112 adult 
Negroes. As Joseph Blount Cheshire, Church historian and bishop, 
pointed out: "Such zeal as this bore fruit in the people upon whom it 
was poured out. Where other missionaries could find only misery and 
discouragement, profane people and contentious vestrymen, he found 
happiness and hope, and some measure of response to his goodness". 
Hall was one of North Carolina's first local-bred authors, having his 
work A Collection of Many Christian Experiences . . . published by 
James Davis of New Bern in 1753. Parson Hall's own estate suffered 
from his devotion to his ministry and in 1755 his house, his library and 
most of his personal property were destroyed in a fire. In 1756-1757, he 
received the services of Daniel Earle as schoolmaster, thus, it is said, 
establishing the first secondary school in North Carolina. 

Earle, born in Bandon, Ireland, the youngest son of a nobleman, had 
been an officer in the British army and had married the daughter of an 
Anglican church official. After becoming schoolmaster at Edenton, he 
took holy orders and became curate at St. Paul's Church, succeeding 
Hall as rector in 1759. Parson Earle lived on his plantation, Bandon, 
was an active fisherman, and with the help of his daughter conducted a 
classical school. 

A native of Scotland, educated at Cambridge, chaplain under 
Frederick the Great and with the Duke of Cumberland at the Battle of 
Culloden, the Rev. Dr. George Micklejohn came to North Carolina in 
1766 and was installed as rector at St. Matthew's, Hillsborough. 

The Rev. James Moir, who had come from South Carolina to the 
Cape Fear to serve the parishes of St. James', New Hanover, and St. 

3 This was the original courthouse built in 1719 not the one standing in Edenton today. 


Philip's, Brunswick 4 , where he was also schoolmaster, removed to 
Edgecombe County in 1749 and continued to officiate until his death in 
1767. Cheshire contrasts Moir with Parson Hall and says that despite 
his extensive labors Moir accomplished little because he was fettered 
by the system under which he had been brought up and thus 
exemplified the weakness of the Established Church in America. "He 
did not lack abilities or worth, but he was all the time vexing himself 
and railing at the circumstances because he could not make the 
established system work." 

In 1753 the Rev. James Reed, in response to an appeal from the 
vestry of Craven Parish, came with his family to New Bern and 
entered into an agreement with the vestry, which was confirmed by 
the Assembly, for which he acted as chaplain. Later he became an SPG 
missionary and served nine chapels in Craven and Carteret Counties 
in addition to the church at New Bern, completed three years before 
his arrival. Parson Reed had in his personal library 266 books. He also 
was the moving spirit behind the building and operation of the New 
Bern Academy, probably the most successful of the colonial schools 
under the Church's auspices. One of the Academy's schoolmasters was 
Thomas Tomlinson, who continued in the tradition begun early in the 
century by Charles Griffin in Pasquotank. 

Also coming to North Carolina in 1753, as chaplain to Governor 
Dobbs, the Rev. Alexander Stewart, M.A. of the University of Dublin, 
took charge of St. Thomas, Bath. In addition, he was an SPG 
missionary and an agent for Dr. Bray's Associates, by which 
organization he was named superintendent of schools for North 
Carolina and established a school for Indian and Negro children. 
Stewart approached his work and met his problems more in the spirit 
of Clement Hall than of James Moir. "Until the Spring of 1771, 
through much sickness and fatigue and amid vexations and hardship, 
he spoke the word of God to the people of Beaufort, Hyde and Pitt 
Counties, serving thirteen chapels besides his parish church," which 
though begun in 1734, was not finished until 1762. He ministered to 
whites, Indians and Negroes, infants and adults, baptizing, when so 
desired by his converts, by immersion. He had deep concern for the 
welfare of Indians and blacks and stressed the importance of their 
training to his white parishioners. Among Parson Stewart's 
parishioners was Nathaniel Blount, who might be called his successor 
and the last survivor of the colonial-born clergy of the Church of 
England in North Carolina. Blount, one of five young men from North 
Carolina who went to London to be ordained in the years just prior to 
the Revolution, built a chapel at Chocowinity . 5 Another of these young 
candidates was Charles Pettigrew, schoolmaster at Edenton. 

4 The first church buildings for St. James' and St. Philip's parishes were not begun 
until the 1750's. 

5 Now moved to a new site, it is Trinity Church, Chocowinity. 


always in time of controversy and war, there were for religion and the 
Church in Revolutionary America disruptions and losses suffered, 
some gains made, and adjustments slowly and painfully achieved. 
During the quarrel between colonies and mother country some 
Anglican clergymen in North Carolina remained loyal and were 
forced out of their pulpits or left their parishes upon the withdrawal of 
British authority. The Rev. John Wills of Wilmington was one of these. 
A few, such as Reed and Micklejohn, stayed on and were more or less 
tolerated. Some accommodated themselves to the patriot cause. 
Among these were Earle, Blount and Pettigrew. Also in this category 
were the Rev. Messrs. Adam Boyd, Charles Edward Taylor, Hezekiah 
Ford and Charles Cupples who served as chaplains to various 
Revolutionary bodies. In December of 1776 the Anglican Church was 
disestablished by the North Carolina State Convention. 




GENERAL CONVENTIONS. An independent branch of the 
Anglican Communion, the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United 
States of America, was constituted in a series of General Conventions 
at Philadelphia and Wilmington, Delaware, in 1785, 1786 and 1789. 
Its first bishops were Samuel Seabury (Connecticut), consecrated by 
non-juring bishops in Scotland, and William White (Pennsylvania) 
and Samuel Provoost (New York), consecrated by English bishops in 
Lambeth Palace under a new statute. In 1790 James Madison was 
consecrated in England to be Bishop of Virginia. The General 
Convention of the American Church, somewhat like the Senate and 
House of Representatives of the United States or the Lords and 
Commons of Great Britain, consisted of a House of Bishops and a 
House of Deputies. 1 

1794) AND BISHOP-ELECT PETTIGREW. In North Carolina an 
attempt to organize a diocese was made in conventions held at 
Tarborough in 1790, 1793 and 1794. The following clergymen 
attended these meetings, as indicated: Rev. Charles Pettigrew of 
Edenton and Bertie County (June and November, 1790; 1794- 
president); Rev. Dr. George Micklejohn of Granville County 
(November, 1790); Rev. James L. Wilson of Martin and Edgecombe 
Counties (1793-president; 1794); Rev. Solomon Hailing of New Bern 
(1793; 1794); Rev. Joseph Gurley of Murfreesborough and Hertford 
County (1793; 1794); Rev. Nathaniel Blount of Pitt and Beaufort 
Counties (1794); Rev. Robert Johnston Miller of Whitehaven Parish 
and Lincoln County (1794). Representing the laity were: Dr. John 
Leigh of Tarborough and member of the General Assembly from 
Edgecombe County (June and November, 1790; 1793; 1794); William 
Clements of Tarborough (1790; 1793; 1794-secretary); William 
McKenzie of Martin County (November, 1790); Col. Joseph Leech of 
New Bern (November, 1790); F. Green of New Bern (1793); James 
Adams of Edgecombe County (1794); Dr. Isaac Guion of New Bern and 
Craven County (1794); Robert Whyte of Tarborough (1794); Benjamin 
Woods, New Bern attorney (1794); Joseph Perkins of Lincoln County 
(1794); Leonard Dessaux (Depeaux?) of Beaufort County (1794); 
William Grimes of Pitt County (1794); Robert Godley of Beaufort 
County (1794). Charles Pettigrew was elected Bishop but due to a 
series of preventive circumstances never received consecration and 
diocesan organization was never consummated. Pettigrew, who 
removed to his plantations in Washington County, continued to hold 
services and correspond with his brother clergymen and the Bishops 
concerning religious matters and the Church in North Carolina. On 

^rior to 1789, they met as one body. 

his estate he built in 1803 a chapel, which became St. David's and is 
still standing today as a parochial shrine of Christ Church, Creswell. 2 
Nevertheless, the decline of Episcopal worship in North Carolina, 
which had set in with the Revolution, continued. 

A DIOCESE IS FORMED. In the year 1817 another attempt at 
revival and diocesan organization succeeded. A convention, held at 
New Bern and attended by the Reverends Bethel Judd of St. John's, 
Fayetteville (president); Adam Empie of St. James', Wilmington 
(secretary); and Jehu Curtis Clay of Christ Church, New Bern; and by 
laymen John Winslow of Fayetteville, Marsden Campbell and John R. 
London of Wilmington, John Stanley and John S. West of New Bern, 
and Josiah Collins, Jr., of Edenton, resulted in the Diocese of North 
Carolina becoming functional. The new diocese with its three 
clergymen and two hundred communicants 3 came under the supervi- 
sion of the Bishop of Virginia, the Rt. Rev. Richard Channing Moore. 
The Standing Committee of the Diocese consisted of Revs. Judd, Clay, 
Empie and Messrs. West, Winslow, Campbell together with John B. 
Blount of Edenton. The Rev. Mr. Judd and Moses Jarvis of New Bern 
were elected delegates to General Convention. 

North Carolina have its own bishop. In that year the Diocesan 
Convention at Salisbury elected to the office the Rev. John Stark 
Ravenscroft, also a Virginian. Educated in Great Britain and heir to a 
prosperous estate in Virginia, Ravenscroft had assumed the status of a 
planter, studied law at the College of William and Mary and entered 
upon a life of self-indulgence. Then he turned toward religion, first as 
a lay elder in the Republican Methodist Church and then, seeking a 
more apostolically founded church, as a lay reader in the Episcopal 
Diocese of Virginia. Ordained deacon and priest by Bishop Moore, he 
labored in rural parishes, cultivating the traits of character — zeal, 
devotion to duty, austerity, kindliness, strong feelings — that were to 
become his trademark. Elected Bishop of North Carolina in 1823 and 
consecrated in St. Paul's Church, Philadelphia, he served not only as 
Diocesan but also as the first rector of Christ Church, Raleigh, 
established in 1821, and then of the Colonial Church of St. John, 
Williamsborough, in Granville County. His salary as bishop was $750 
a year, supplemented by what he received for his parochial services. 4 
Bishop Ravenscroft described himself as being a little over six feet tall 
and weighing 220 pounds. He was said to dress plainly in the style of 
the Revolutionary Period, wearing a black cloth coat and knee pants, 

2 Along with St. Thomas, Bath, and Trinity, Chocowinity (Parson Blount's chapel), St. 
David's deserves to be preserved as a historic structure of diocesan and state-wide 

3 Or was it only seventy-one? 

4 His episcopal salary was raised to $1000 in 1829 when he was relieved of his parish 


dark gray ribbed stockings, buckled shoes in the summer and high 
boots in the winter, and spotless linen that always included a stock 
"pleated at the neck and fastened at the back with a silver buckle". In 
his ecclesiastical vestments, a contemporary recalled, he looked "truly 

The new Bishop of North Carolina assumed charge of a diocese that 
was co-extensive with the state, stretching some five hundred miles 
from sea to mountains but with only twenty-five parishes. These were 
mostly in the eastern part of the state and included parishes carrying 
over from the Colonial Establishment and some newly formed 
congregations such as Christ Church, Raleigh, St. Peter's, 
Washington, and Grace Chapel in Pitt County. 5 The number of clergy 
was seven and of communicants four hundred and eighty. They sorely 
needed the evangelistic zeal and high churchmanship of Bishop 
Ravenscroft, who wrote in his Journal in May, 1825: 
In the evening of the 12th, preached in Greenville to a small 
congregation [the predecessor of St. Paul's], composed chiefly of 
the residents of the village, but few Episcopalians, and those few 
nearly strangers to their own services from long disuse. There is, 
however, a spirit abiding with them, which may yet cause this 
remnant again to take root and flourish, and become mighty, in 
showing forth the praises of their God and Savior. 
In 1830 death brought an end to the short but vigorous administra- 
tion of Bishop Ravenscroft, who as a pioneer shepherd of the flock by 
precept and example had set the course for the Diocese and enhanced 
the reputation of the Episcopal clergy. His successor, the Rt. Rev. Levi 
Silliman Ives, was a Connecticut Yankee by birth and a New York 
Presbyterian by nurture, who had directed his study for the ministry 
toward the Episcopal Church and served congregations in New York 
and Pennsylvania. He was consecrated in Trinity Church, 
Philadelphia. An attractive but troubled spiritual father, Bishop Ives 
struggled for some years with problems of theological and personal 
beliefs and vacillated between loyal service to his diocese and the 
doctrinal appeal of the Church of Rome. He sought to combine 
missionary zeal with an interest in education as reflected in the 
Mission at Valle Crucis and a short-lived school at Raleigh. Some 
increase in the number of churches, clergy and communicants was 
achieved. Finally, in December, 1852, he resigned from his diocesan 
post in the heat of the controversy his conduct had precipitated and 
was succeeded by the Rt. Rev. Thomas Atkinson. 

Atkinson, a native of Virginia and a graduate of Hampden-Sydney 
College, had practiced law for eight years prior to entering the 
Episcopal ministry. He served churches in Norfolk and Lynchburg 
and was rector of St. Peter's, Baltimore at the time of his election as 
Bishop of North Carolina. Consecrated in St. John's Chapel, New 

5 Out of this last named congregation there developed what we know today as St. John's 
Church near Grifton. 

York, he took over the disturbed diocese. Before, during and after the 

Civil War, Atkinson was truly the bishop-reconciler in his diocese and 

in the National Church, both of which had many problems, political 

and military as well as ecclesiastical, to face. There ensued disruption 

and suspension of services and the exile of a number of the clergy, 

including Bishop Atkinson, and their parishioners.- Some clergymen, 

like the Rev. Alfred A. Watson of New Bern, served as chaplains and 

many laymen fought in the armed forces in and beyond the borders of 

the state. In 1862 the Diocese of North Carolina became affiliated with 

the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Confederate States of 

America. To its first General Council, the Diocese reported: 

The present number of the clergy is 53, a larger number than in 

any previous year. Four have been ordained during the past year, 

viz: 2 Deacons and 2 Priests. There are twelve candidates for Holy 

Orders. Three churches have been consecrated. There are 67 

Parishes. In this year there have been 432 baptisms, 122 persons 

confirmed, 38 marriages, and 164 burials. There are reported 

1973 communicants, and 838 catechumens. 6 

In the reuniting of the Church North and South in the postwar years 
Bishop Atkinson was a moving spirit. Again, as after the 
Revolutionary War, a period of setback and slow recovery followed. 
DIVISION OF THE DIOCESE. The Bishop's declining health 
caused the Diocesan Convention of 1866 to consider dividing the 
diocese. Committee reports were made in the next two conventions but 
the matter was turned over to General Convention and in 1873 the 
Diocesan Convention, accepting Bishop Atkinson's suggestion, elected 
an assistant bishop. They chose for that office Theodore Benedict 
Lyman, Massachusetts-born cosmopolitan and conservative priest. 
Plans for division were reported and discussed in 1875, 1876 and 1877 
but once more Convention put off making a decision. The Convention 
of 1882, however, adopted a majority report for division that would 
require ratification by its successor. 

Bishop Lyman, who had become diocesan upon Bishop Atkinson's 
death in 1881, although personally opposed to division, agreed to give 
his consent provided that (1) a majority of diocesan clergy and lay 
delegates approved, (2) he could accept the dividing line, and (3) the 
two dioceses shared equally in the Permanent Funds. Having received 
this report the Convention on May 25 and 26, 1883 voted for division 
and after prolonged discussion of many proposed lines finally reached 
agreement on one. The accepted line ran from the North Carolina- 
Virginia boundary along the eastern border of Northampton, Halifax, 
Edgecombe, Wilson and Johnston Counties, the southern border of 
Harnett and the western border of Cumberland and Robeson to the 
North Carolina-South Carolina boundary. All the counties east of this 
line to the Atlantic, namely; Hertford, Bertie, Martin, Pitt, Greene, 
Wayne, Sampson, Cumberland, Robeson, Columbus, Brunswick, New 

6 Catechumens are persons being instructed in the catechism by catechists. 


Hanover, Pender, Bladen, Duplin, Lenoir, Jones, Onslow, Carteret, 
Craven, Pamlico, Beaufort, Hyde, Washington, Tyrrell, Dare, 
Currituck, Camden, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Chowan and Gates, 
would constitute a second diocese in the state. With the formal 
approval of Bishop Lyman and General Convention, the way was 
cleared after nearly twenty years of deliberation and delay for the 
actual organization of a second diocese in North Carolina. 




AS OVERSEER. This new diocese was inaugurated at a convention 
held in Christ Church, New Bern, on December 12-13, 1883 and 
attended by twenty-one clergymen and sixty-six laymen representing 
twenty-four parishes. Bishop Lyman and the Rev. Robert Brent 
Drane, Rector of St. Paul's, Edenton, acted as president and secretary 
pro tern respectively. The convention elected as permanent officers the 
Rev. Dr. A. A. Watson, Rector of St. James', Wilmington, and the Rev. 
Nathaniel Harding, Rector of St. Peter's, Washington; chose "East 
Carolina," proposed by the Rev. Dr. Joseph C. Huske, Rector of St. 
John's, Fayetteville, as the name for the diocese; 1 and unanimously 
named Dr. Watson to be first Bishop of East Carolina. Bishop Lyman 
acted as a kind of diocesan overseer pending the consecration of the 
Bishop-Elect, which took place in St. James', Wilmington, on April 17, 
1884 with six bishops, including William Mercer Green of Mississippi 
and T. B. Lyman of North Carolina, participating. 

Born in New York City of Presbyterian parents on August 21, 1818, 
Alfred Augustin Watson graduated from New York University and 
then took up the study of law but did not continue in its practice. 
Instead, he came to Washington County, North Carolina in 1841 to 
tutor the children of Josiah Collins of Somerset Plantation. As a 
member of this household he became interested in the Episcopal 
Church, studied its ritual and doctrines, and was baptized and 
confirmed into its ranks. Becoming a candidate for Holy Orders, he 
attended the General Theological Seminary in New York and was 
ordained deacon. He took charge of Grace Church, Plymouth, North 
Carolina, in December of 1844 and devoted himself to his ministry in 
Washington and adjacent counties with a missionary zeal that was to 
characterize the rest of his life. In May of 1845, he was advanced to the 
priesthood by Bishop Ives. Besides Grace Church, he served St. Luke's, 
Washington County, 2 and the Church of the Advent, Williamston. 
From December, 1858 to July, 1861 he was rector of Christ Church, 
New Bern; and then he entered the service of the Confederate States as 
chaplain to the Second North Carolina Regiment and the hospital at 
Goldsborough. Becoming assistant to Bishop Atkinson at St. James', 
Wilmington, in March, 1863, he succeeded him as rector in December 
of the following year. 

To the first annual diocesan convention presided over by Bishop 
Watson in May, 1884, the Committee on the State of the Church 
reported the following statistics: twenty-one clergymen (thirteen of 
them priests), fifty-two parishes and mission stations, 2,463 com- 
municants and $30,000 in contributions. The second convention 

'Four other names suggested were: Roanoke, Albemarle, Wilmington and Carolina. 
2 Now known as St. Luke's, Roper, N. C. 


adopted a constitution and canons, modelled after those of the North 
Carolina Diocese and the National Church, whose overall authority 
was accepted. The constitution provided for an annual council 3 
composed of the clergy and male lay delegates 4 representing the 
parishes, none of which should have more than four. The council had 
considerable power and could advise, question or impeach the bishop 
but could not limit his authority. Council officers were: a president, 
"who shall be a Presbyter [Priest] of the Diocese"; a secretary; a 
treasurer; and, by later provision, a chancellor or legal advisor, and a 
historiographer and/or registrar to be the custodian of the records of 
the diocese and writer of its history. Permanent committees, elected 
each year by the council, included the Standing Committee, Executive 
Missionary Committee, Committee on Canons, Finance Committee, 
Education Committee and Church Building Committee. Bishop 
Watson appointed regular committees on Elections, New Parishes, 
Unfinished Business, the State of the Church and (in 1898) Com- 
munications to and from General Convention. Special committees and 
boards were added from time to time; trustees for institutions were 
appointed and delegates to General Convention elected. 

Except by unanimous consent, a proposed canon or amendment to a 
canon could not be passed that same day or without being referred to 
the Committee on Canons. Constitutional amendments had to be 
approved by a majority of both orders present at one council and 
adopted by a majority of clergy and parishes (at least fifteen) at the 
next council. Action might always be postponed until the next council 
by vote of two-thirds of both orders. 

The Diocese was to be divided into three missionary convocations 
which used the names Edenton, New Bern and Wilmington, each 
meeting at least twice a year under its dean and at times employing an 
evangelist or missionary or archdeacon. East Carolina's official seal, 
adopted in 1893, was described as follows: 
On the border of the lozenge are the words, "Seal of the Diocese of 
East Carolina." In the upper part of the Seal is the mitre; 
underneath, the date of the organization of the Diocese of North 
Carolina 1817. Below this, the first landing on Roanoke Island, 
with the date 1584; the baptism of the first white child in 
America, Virginia Dare, and the date, 1587. Below these the 
motto of the Bishop of the Diocese, "Christi Cruce Confido." At the 
bottom the cross supported by the key and the crook, and the date 
of the organization of the Diocese of East Carolina, 1883. 
There were problems to be faced by the fledgling diocese, which 
often were pressing and continuing. One was a revision of the dividing 
line between the two dioceses. While they united in celebrating in 1890 
the centennial of the Protestant Episcopal Church in North Carolina, 
they could not agree on a change of boundaries. East Carolina's efforts 

3 Since 1925 called convention. 
4 Women were admitted in 1937. 


(1894-1898) to secure cession by North Carolina of Wilson, 
Edgecombe, Nash, Halifax and Northampton Counties were un- 
successful then and, complicated by the creation of the Missionary 
District of Asheville (later the Diocese of Western North Carolina), 
whenever renewed in subsequent years. Another problem was 
obtaining adequate support from a relatively poor rural and 
agricultural area for diocesan missions and clergy, 5 and for the work 
of the Church at large. Bishop Watson regularly pointed out with 
gratitude their dependence on the women of the Diocese, on 
organizations and institutions in other dioceses, and on the National 
Church for much of their support. The Bishop's Fund for diocesan 
missions and the poorly paid clergy was begun in 1886. In 1888 the 
Woman's Auxiliary in the Diocese held its first annual meeting and 
the next year its first United Thank Offering. 

Bishop Watson's example of long and dedicated service was 
matched by the records of some of his clergy, such as Edward 
McCartney Forbes, Nicholas Collin Hughes, Sr., Joseph Caldwell 
Huske, James Carmichael, Nathaniel Harding and Robert Brent 
Drane; and of laymen like Dr. Armand J. DeRosset and Col. William 
L. DeRosset of Wilmington. 

Frequently commended by the Bishop were the Church's in- 
stitutions of learning, especially those in East Carolina — Trinity 
School at Chocowinity, first opened about 1850 by the Rev. N. C. 
Hughes, young scholar and missionary from Pennsylvania serving in 
Beaufort and adjoining counties; and St. Paul's School at Beaufort, 
founded in 1858 by the Rev. D. D. Antwerp and revived in 1899 by the 
Rev. Thomas Pasteur Noe and Mrs. Nannie P. Geoffrey. Of Episcopal 
schools outside the Diocese, mention should be made of St. Mary's 
School and St. Augustine's College, both in Raleigh, and the 
University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee. 

In his address to the council in 1898, Bishop Watson noted the 
country's involvement in war with Spain, expressing his belief that 
while war could not honorably have been averted and the United 
States was fighting for humanity and not out of national pride, the 
resort to arms did represent a failure for the cause of Christian peace. 
He called for magnanimity toward the foe and for prayers throughout 
the diocese. 

Small and frail in body but vibrant with energy and devotion to duty 
the Bishop, despite a heart condition of long standing, continued to 
exert himself to the limit in his visitations throughout the diocese from 
Nags Head to Rockfish in all kinds of weather by any available means 
of transportation, holding services in churches, Episcopal and non- 
Episcopal, public buildings and private homes, and even on board 
ship. In January of 1903 he suffered a stroke but was reluctant to give 

5 One missionary received $125 a year from his three stations supplemented at the 
most by $100 of diocesan funds. 


up and with some enforced absences and restrictions continued in 
service. Not until May 26, 1904 did he request a coadjutor and the 
council on that day elected to the office the Rev. Robert Strange, 
Rector of St. Paul's Church, Richmond, Virginia. On Good Friday, 
April 21, 1905, having passed his twentieth year as diocesan and his 
sixtieth as a clergyman of the Church in North Carolina, Alfred 
Watson died, leaving as a bequest to his beloved diocese his library and 
part of his estate that was to become the Bishop Watson Fund for the 
support of the episcopate. He was a good soldier of the Lord, first, last 
and always. Genial but reserved, firm, zealous and loving, he was 
always ready with fatherly counsel in dealing with the shortcomings 
of clergy and laity. Thorough in all things, he expected no more and no 
less from others than he demanded of himself. He was a strict canonist 
and pure Gospel preacher. Somewhat of the old school of Christian 
living, he was opposed to the trend toward worldliness and 
irreverence. He was not happy with "the super organization of the 
day" but realized the need for organization in harnessing human 
effort. Nor did he look backward. Early in his episcopate he reminded 
his people: "The Past is gone past mending. The Future is Ours." He set 
for the Diocese a goal of militant Christian mission and working with 
his people held the line and the faith and made some advance. His 
influence, emanating from a life well lived, was marked and won him 
the love and respect of the members of his Church and many outside it. 

1905-1914. For the first time East Carolina had a native son as 
Diocesan in the person of Robert Strange, who was born December 6, 
1857, the son of Col. Robert Strange, C.S. A., Wilmington attorney, and 
Carolina, daughter of Thomas Henry Wright. Young Robert attended 
the Wilmington schools and Horner and Grimes Military Academy at 
Hillsboro, and graduated from the University of North Carolina. He 
then became a candidate for holy orders, studying at the Berkeley 
Divinity School in Connecticut. Ordained deacon by Bishop Watson, 
April 23, 1884, he served as a missionary to the Negroes in Brunswick 
County, Virginia. He travelled in Europe and after his return was 
advanced to the priesthood on November 1, 1885 by Bishop Lyman. 
From the rectorship of the Church of the Good Shepherd, Raleigh, he 
went to that of his home church, St. James', Wilmington, in 1887 and in 
1900 to St. Paul's, Richmond, Virginia, which he left to become 
coadjutor to Bishop Watson. 

Addressing his first Council, Bishop Strange stressed the oppor- 
tunity afforded the Church by the times, which he said were 
characterized by growth and change, by material, mental and 
spiritual progress, when the grip of old patterns was weakening and 
the people were more "open to new aspects of truth." He called for a de- 
emphasis of sectarianism in and out of the Church; for support of the 
public educational institutions and the established church schools; for 
a renewed missionary effort led by the Bishop and every clergyman 
and based on established centers. 


An archdeacon for colored work in East Carolina, the Rev. William 
George Avant, was appointed in 1907 and the Council favored the 
proposal in the General Convention for colored jurisdictions but 
opposed the one for colored suffragans, although Bishop Strange 
spoke favorably of having Negro bishops for these jurisdictions. 

The Mission Herald, published under the auspices of the Convoca- 
tion of Edenton, was adopted as the official organ of the Diocese in 
1907 and since then, with the exception of the years 1909-1911, during 
which it was merged with The Messenger of Hope of the Diocese of 
North Carolina to form the publication The Carolina Churchman, it 
has held and merited that official status under a succession of able 
editors and business managers. 

The year 1908 saw the closing of Trinity School, Chocowinity, after 
thirty-two years (not counting the eighteen years of previous periods of 
operation) of continuous service to the Carolina dioceses under the 
direction of Dr. Hughes and his son, who nurtured a goodly number of 
sound scholars and dedicated Churchmen. The two dioceses formally 
joined in 1909 in support of the work with students at the University of 
North Carolina, in which Bishop Strange had strong personal interest 
and in which he had participated from the outset of his episcopate. 

In his visitations Bishop Strange carried on the good soldierly 
tradition set by his predecessor, traveling the length and breadth of 
the Diocese by horse and buggy, boat and train. He became seriously 
ill in mid-1913 and on November 13 transferred the ecclesiastical 
authority to the Standing Committee, which acted for him in routing 
matters, while other bishops took over some of his visitations. On 
August 23, 1914 he died and was buried beneath the chancel of St. 
James' Church. 

Bishop Strange was by nature a nobleman, by training and devotion 
an able administrator and a good preacher. Loyal to the Protestant 
Episcopal Church and to the Diocese of East Carolina, as was Bishop 
Watson, he had a somewhat broader and fresher outlook. He was less 
strict a sectarian and canonist. Within limits, but perhaps more 
flexible limits, he worked for church unity. He won support from most 
but not all within the Diocese both because of his character and his 
reasoning; and he won a response from many outside his Church. He 
was a member of his Church's Joint Commission on Social Service, and 
of the American Red Cross, and of the Universal Peace and 
International Arbitration Movements. 

Robert Strange was an education-minded bishop. He continued the 
emphasis on East Carolina's being a militant missionary diocese that 
needed to become self-supporting. He stressed the importance of 
recognizing and aiding the increasing number of striving Negroes to 
develop through even a little more than equal opportunities in public 

During the short years of his leadership the Diocese entered upon an 
era of awakening to change and made some gains. Keeping well the 
faith and the work handed him by Bishop Watson, he laid sound 


foundations for future growth. 

EVANGELICAL SERVICE, 1915-1945. Thomas Campbell Darst 
was born a Virginian on November 10, 1875, and was reared as a 
Presbyterian. A graduate of Roanoke College and the Episcopal 
Theological Seminary at Alexandria, he was ordained deacon in 1902 
and priest the next year. He was first an assistant at Christ Church, 
Fairmount, West Virginia and then successively rector of several 
parishes in Virginia. On October 7, 1914, while rector of St. James' 
Church, Richmond, he was elected Bishop of East Carolina by a 
Special Council and consecrated in St. James', Wilmington, on 
January 6, 1915. 

Commenting on the awakened spirit he found in the Diocese, Bishop 
Darst attributed it to the leadership of his predecessor and the Every 
Member Canvass. The Bishop Strange Memorial Fund was instituted 
and a new edition of the Constitution and Canons printed in 1915. 
While Bishop Darst expressed opposition to the proposal from General 
Convention for a racial episcopate, a diocesan committee reported 
favorably on it and after much discussion the Council approved it as a 
future policy but added that the time was not suitable for final action 
and that Bishop Darst should consult with other Southern Bishops. In 
1919 the Bishop accepted the services of the Rt. Rev. Henry Beard 
Delany, Negro Suffragan Bishop of North Carolina. 

Bishop Darst was the preacher at the celebration of the centennial of 
the organization of the Diocese of North Carolina in Christ Church, 
New Bern, on May 17, 1917. The Council of that year met with the 
country at war. The Bishop spoke of the ways in which the Diocese of 
East Carolina was able to serve: through her sons in the armed forces, 
through the financial contributions of her members, through the food 
produced by her farmers, through her clergy acting as chaplains, and 
through the prayers of her people. East Carolina responded well, 
giving for service most of her able-bodied young men and seven of her 
clergymen. In the immediate post-war years, the Bishop called on 
clergy and laity to provide the spiritual leadership needed for the 
world in the time of transition that was at hand. 

A campaign to implement General Convention's Nationwide 
Movement to mobilize all the financial and spiritual resources of the 
Church for carrying out its work in the diocese, the nation and the 
world, got underway in East Carolina in 1919. A year later the 
committee in charge was able to report that, under the capable 
leadership of the Rev. William Hammond Milton, D.D., Rector of St. 
James', Wilmington, who became the first executive secretary of the 
Field Department of the National Church, and with the support of 
clergy and laity alike, the campaign had been carried out with the 
whole Diocese stirred and the financial goal more than met. East 
Carolina was one of four one-hundred per cent dioceses. Dr. Milton, 
who had previously initiated the EMC in his own parish and 
subsequently served as Director of the Field Department and 


participated in the Bishops' Crusade for Spiritual Awakening, 
received well earned recognition from General Convention and from 
his own Bishop and Diocese. 

A revision of the Canons in 1920 provided for "The Bishop and 
Executive Council" to more effectively organize the work of the 
Diocese. The Executive Council worked through its departments. At 
first there were five departments, namely; Missions and Church 
Extension, Religious (later Christian) Education, Christian Social 
Service, Finance, and Publicity. Other departments have been added 
and changes made in name, procedure and function over the years. 
The Rev. Walter Raleigh Noe, of Wilmington, was the active and 
efficient executive secretary in addition to his many other offices and 

By action of the Council the name of the annual meeting was 
changed from council to convention beginning with the year 1925. 
That year the tenth anniversary of Bishop Darst's consecration was 
commemorated at a special service with a series of addresses on the 
Bishop's administration of the Diocese, his relations with clergy and 
laity, and his services to the National Church. Bishop Darst spoke 
modestly of his own labors and with gratitude of the support he had 
been given by the "loyal band" of clergymen and the "splendid body" of 
lay men and women of the Diocese. He noted the progress made during 
the decade while the Committee on the State of the Church reported on 
"the spirit of unity and a new determination to press forward" that was 
evident in the Diocese under his leadership. Young people's work was 
studied by a special commission and the Young People's Service 
Leagues (since 1957 called the Young Churchmen) were organized 
under the supervision of the Department of Religious Education, 
within which there was later (1941) set up a Department of Youth. 

In 1928 Bishop Darst called his people to "deeper consecration" in a 
time of complacency in an "America, proud, rich, powerful [that] 
stands in the sunlight of a deadening prosperity." A new budget 
procedure based on the acceptance of increased apportionments 
among the parishes and missions with a goal for the future of "an 
apportionment equal to 100% of the reported Current Expenses" was 
adopted in 1930. The Camp Leach property on the Pamlico River near 
Washington and valued at about $8,000 was acquired that year for 
$1,400 as a "Summer Conference and training center." As the 
economic depression following the 1929 stock market collapse spread 
and deepened, its effects were felt in East Carolina; but the Bishop, 
while sympathizing with their troubles and commending their 
sacrifices, exhorted his people not to use the depression as an excuse 
for lack of faith, for selfishness or retreating but rather to dedicate 
themselves to continued efforts. The fiftieth anniversary of the 
formation of the Diocese was commemorated in 1933 with a historical 
address by Major Bartholomew R. Huske of Fayetteville. Discussion 
of a proposed constitutional change to permit the election of women 
delegates to the Diocesan Convention, begun in 1921, was resumed in 


1933 and continued until 1937, when the question was finally resolved 
by an affirmative vote. 

The twentieth anniversary of Bishop Darst's consecration was 
observed in 1935 and a plan for the Bishop Darst AnniversaryFundto 
pay off the diocesan debt and support the episcopate was adopted. In 
surveying the accomplishments of the twenty-year period, the Bishop 
reported that he had confirmed 7,461 persons and ordained eighty- 
nine clergymen while the Diocese with only fourteen self-supporting 
parishes had carried on "the largest diocesan missions program, per 
capita, of any diocese in the entire South." He then turned his people's 
attention toward their part in the Forward Movement of the Church 
for the future and to the solution of the world's problems, which they 
must face with renewed spiritual energy and valor. In 1940 he pointed 
out the problem of church dropouts — more than two thousand since 
1915 — as a result of inadequate preparation for confirmation or a 
failure of fellow members to give them sufficient personal attention. 

A new institution under Diocesan sponsorship, the Good Shepherd 
Hospital at New Bern, a Negro enterprise, had opened in 1938 to 
crown the efforts begun by the Rev. Robert I. Johnson, Rector of St. 
Cyprian's Church. When the area was swept by a devastating fire in 
1922, Mr. Johnson placed himself and his church at the service of his 
people. He directed much of the relief work and the church was used as 
a hospital. From this experience he became possessed with the dream 
and the drive to provide a hospital for the Negroes of Eastern North 
Carolina who at the time had available to them only one hospital bed 
for every 10,000, whereas the national average was one for every 2,000. 
In 1930 the dream was given its first organized backing when Bishop 
Darst appointed a Committee on the Proposed Hospital for Colored 
People of New Bern. Mr. Johnson, who was treasurer, went to 
Pennsylvania to speak on behalf of the project and received substantial 
support. In his first report to the Diocesan Convention he announced 
the choice of the name Good Shepherd Hospital and Training School 
and challenged the Diocese to serve its Negro people. Construction of a 
building begun in 1936 on property left to the Diocese by the Rev. E. M. 
Forbes, was completed two years later with contributions from within 
and without the Diocese, especially from the Woman's Auxiliary. 
Described as "a unique venture in interracial cooperation," Good 
Shepherd Hospital celebrated its first birthday in 1939 with a 
building and equipment valued at $68,000 and free of debt. An 
association of "The Friends of Good Shepherd Hospital" was formed 
and Mr. Johnson noted that in its first year of operation the Hospital 
had 416 patients in its wards, treated 4,000 in its clinics and received 
widespread commendation and appreciation for its service to a portion 
of the 300,000 Negroes in the Diocese. With fees supplemented by 
support and supplies from Church people, friends, community, county 
and state agencies, and private foundations, the institution was 
endeavoring to provide the needed care while staying within its means 
and reducing the per capita cost of its operation. Good Shepherd 


Hospital was also said to be in a position to train Negro doctors and 
nurses to help their own people. As the years passed, the Hospital, with 
continued Diocesan support and connection and Federal aid as well, 
added to its plant and services to an increasing population, although 
the increase in the number of doctors did not keep pace. 

Another institution in the Diocese, St. Paul's School, Beaufort, 
closed in 1939 after forty years of service to East Carolina, a record for 
which much credit was due to the inspiration of the Rev. T. P. Noe and 
Mrs. Geoffroy. A plan for the Diocese to operate the school with funds 
raised by a St. Paul's School Association had been enthusiastically 
endorsed in 1924 but by 1929 had failed to provide sufficient support to 
warrant the Diocese taking over the school, which did not long 
continue after Mrs. Geoffroy's death in 1937. 

World War again confronted Bishop Darst and his Diocese in 
September, 1939, and more directly in the aftermath of December 7, 
1941. As in 1917, they responded to opportunities for service by 
providing fighting men, money, ministrations, and chaplains. A 
Special Gifts Fund for this work was begun. Despite the efforts of all 
its agencies and people, especially the congregations near the military 
establishments, the Diocese fell short in meeting the burgeoning 
needs, which were greater in East Carolina than in most other dioceses 
and it was helped out by the National Church. In 1943 the Rev. Robert 
I. Johnson was appointed Archdeacon of the Colored Convocation, an 
important concern of Bishop Darst and the Diocese from the outset of 
his administration and another area of service for Mr. Johnson. 

Following an illness, the Bishop gave notice in May, 1944 that he 
contemplated retirement and made his decision to take effect May 1, 
1945. The Convention that year over which he presided celebrated the 
thirtieth anniversary of his consecration and heard his farewell 

Thomas Campbell Darst was as conservative as Bishop Watson in 
holding the line for fundamentals and as alive to the changing times 
and the need for a wider outlook and expanding leadership as Bishop 
Strange. Above all, he never lost sight of the importance of personal 
spiritual concern and consecration. As bishop and preacher he was an 
effective evangelist. Organization, he said in a time of already 
multiplying organization, could not "take the place of the spirit of 
God." He stressed in a world of heightened tension the need for 
"dignity and beauty of worship," for a "quiet confidence in the 
overshadowing power of God," and "belief in the inherent goodness of 

A newcomer to East Carolina, he soon won the hearts of the people 
and in time made himself one with the Diocese, which made material 
as well as spiritual progress during his episcopate. His services to the 
National Council as the first chairman of the National Commission on 
Evangelism (1925-1934) and of the Bishop's Crusade for Spiritual 
Awakening (1926-1927) won recognition and praise for both the 
Bishop and his Diocese. 


ENTRY INTO A NEW AGE, 1945-1972. For the fourth Bishop of 
East Carolina, taking over the administration of the Diocese was a 
homecoming. It was at Wilmington that Thomas Henry Wright was 
born on October 16, 1904 to John Maffitt Wright and Josie Young 
Whitaker and raised up in St. James' Church. He graduated from The 
University of the South in 1926, worked as a clerk for the Standard Oil 
Company of New Jersey, 1926-1927, and entered the Episcopal 
Theological Seminary at Alexandria, graduating B.D. three years 
later. Ordained to both the diaconate and the priesthood by Bishop 
Darst, he ministered during 1931-1932 to the Episcopal students at the 
University of North Carolina. In 1933-1934 he was acting secretary of 
college work for the National Church and from 1934 to 1941, while 
rector of the Robert E. Lee Memorial Church at Lexington, Virginia, 
served as chaplain at Washington and Lee University and the Virginia 
Military Institute. Dr. Wright was Dean of Grace Cathedral, San 
Francisco, California, 1941-1943, and Rector of St. Mark's Church, 
San Antonio, Texas, 1943-1945. Unanimously elected Bishop of East 
Carolina on May 24, 1945 (his being the only name presented), he was 
consecrated in St. James', Wilmington on October 5. 

The order of the day for the new episcopal administration was set by 
the National Church's Reconstruction and Advance Fund of 1945 as 
reported to the Diocesan Convention of 1946 by the Bishop and 
Executive Council. A goal of $30,000 to be raised by a canvass in the 
parishes and missions was accepted for East Carolina. Supervision of 
the Mission Herald was assumed by a Board of Publication in 1946. 
Under the direction of Ozzie T. Faison, who became superintendent on 
the death of Archdeacon Johnson in 1946, Good Shepherd Hospital 
faced problems of plant renovation and finance. In 1949 the Diocesan 
Convention voted to retain control of the Hospital by the Church. 
Superintendent Faison reported that the Hospital, in a plant valued at 
more than $150,000 and consisting of an attractive one-story building 
with fifty-eight beds and eight bassinet beds, a modern major and 
minor operating room and a nurses' home, had handled every type of 
case, saved many lives and lost few. Fifty per cent of the progress 
achieved he credited to the Diocese of East Carolina and the Woman's 
Auxiliary. He stressed the problem of serving a people least able to pay 
with no endowment and with rising costs of operation. In subsequent 
years many improvements were made, much new equipment added 
and the staff enlarged. The Hospital achieved and maintained 
accreditation and became eligible for grants from outside agencies 
and foundations. In December of 1956, after twenty-two years of 
service to the Church as a medical missionary in China and Alaska, 
Dr. Lula M. Disosway, a native of New Bern, became the Hospital's 
medical director. 

The work in behalf of the men in the Armed Forces was continued 
through the efforts of the churches, black and white, in the 
Fayetteville, Goldsboro, Elizabeth City, New Bern, Jacksonville and 


Wilmington areas with the help of the Woman's Auxiliary and the 
Army and Navy Commission of the National Church. East Carolina 
stood first among the dioceses in its response to the Presiding Bishop's 
Fund for World Relief, giving 225% of its expected quota. Aid for 
displaced persons abroad was undertaken by the Bishop and the 
Diocese in answer to the National Church's call and the Korean War 
added to the demands on the Armed Forces Ministry. This work has 
been maintained down to the present day. Once again, in 1948, the 
move for realignment of diocesan boundaries was resumed only to 
meet with continued opposition from North Carolina but the 
campaign has not been abandoned. 

In 1949 the Diocese accepted the terms of the owners, Mrs. Alice 
Hoffman and others, and acquired as a camp site and conference 
center the Bogue Sound property known as the Quentin Roosevelt 
property, now called the Alice Hoffman Center. Also that year the 
Bishop Darst Memorial Fund was initiated in tribute to the late 
bishop, who had died on September 1, 1948. A diocesan survey 
committee reported in 1950 advocating a long-range study and 
program for realignment of the mission fields and revision of the 
canons. A proposed change in the classification of congregations was 
adopted by which they were classified as follows: (1) Full Parishes 
were those that were entirely self-supporting, paid all of the rectors 
salary, maintained a "suitable rectory," and met "promptly their 
mathematical apportionment;" (2) Aided Parishes were those that 
contributed at least one-half of the clergyman's salary, rectory 
allocation and travel allocation or that were part of a self-maintaining 
field and contributed one-third of salary, rectory and travel 
allocations; (3) Missions, which were designated as diocesan or 

A goal of self-support for the Diocese at the end of the five-year 
period of the Bishop Darst Fund was set. Of the quota of $100,000, 
$92,000 was raised by 1953 and by 1955 $125,000 had been 
contributed. Self support, a concern of each of East Carolina's bishops, 
had finally been attained by the end of 1954. A resolution of the 
Department of Promotion for a committee to study the matter of 
relocating the Diocesan headquarters was adopted in 1953. Involved 
in the discussion were factors of geography, convenience, history, 
sentiment, concentrations of population, membership and financial 
support, and potential for growth. (Final decision was to be made by 
the Diocesan Convention of 1973.) In Wilmington the Diocese acquired 
for its headquarters Diocesan House, presented in 1953 by Mrs. 
Walter Marvin (Lucille Murchison) and Dr. David Reid Murchison as 
a memorial to Lucy Wright Murchison Giles and David Reid 

In 1954 was begun the Builders for Christ Campaign to raise 
$75,000 for six national and diocesan projects: National Council Work, 
Negro Work, Army Work in the Diocese, College Work at East 


Carolina College, Bogue Sound Property, and Camp Leach Property. 
This campaign proceeded under the supervision of a committee 
headed by A. H. Jeffress of Kinston and sparked by the efforts of the 
indefatigable Executive Secretary of the Diocese, the Rev. Daniel W. 
Allen, a true and worthy successor of the versatile and devoted Walter 

The Constitution and Canons were brought up to date by revision in 
1954 and 1955. In 1954 the College Work Commission was established 
to direct that developing and significant area of Diocesan effort, of 
which the work at East Carolina College played a major role. Work 
among the students at the Greenville institution had begun in the 
1920's with the Girl's Friendly Society in connection with St. Paul's 
Parish, whose members and the students established a relationship 
that has continued ever since and brought a number of young people 
from the parish and campus into the service of the Church. The 
Woman's Auxiliary contributed to the support of a worker in 1929, the 
Diocese raised a fund for a student center at St. Paul's in 1930, the 
National Church's Department of Religious Education added its 
support in 1932, and in 1954 the work was put on a full-time basis 
under the direction of the rector and a chaplain, the Revs. L. P. 
Houston, Jr., and W. J. Hadden, Jr. being the present members of this 
team. Through the local parishes, work has also been carried on 
among the students at Elizabeth City State College and the College of 
the Albemarle, Fayetteville State College and Methodist College, 
Flora Macdonald College at Red Springs (now incorporated into St. 
Andrew's College), Chowan College at Murfreesboro, and Wilmington 
College (now the University of North Carolina at Wilmington). 

Beyond its boundaries, East Carolina has responded to the 
solicitations of the Protestant Episcopal Church's theological 
seminaries, the University of the South at Sewanee, Tennessee, and St. 
Augustine's College at Raleigh; and especially to those of St. Mary's 
School at Raleigh and Thompson Orphanage at Charlotte. 

In 1899 the Diocese joined with the Diocese of North Carolina in 
taking over from its president, the Rev. Dr. Bennett Smedes, the 
operation of St. Mary's School (the successor to the Episcopal School of 
Bishop Ives' day). East Carolina and its people began to contribute to 
the School's operational and scholarship funds, received representa- 
tion on the St. Mary's Board of Trustees, and heard reports and 
appeals made by its representatives and the School's officials. Girls 
from this Diocese attended the School and joined the ranks of its 

The association of East Carolina with The Thompson Orphanage 
and Training Institution had begun prior to its opening in 1887 on 
property used as a boy's school built as a memorial to Lewis Thompson 
of Bertie County and deeded to the Diocese of North Carolina by the 
Rev. Benjamin S. Bronson, Rector of St. Peter's Church, Charlotte. 
East Carolinians continued to contribute to the institution's financial 
support and participate in its activities and administration. Since 


1890 the Diocese has been represented on the Board of Managers and 
the Convention has received annual reports from them and the 
Superintendent of the Orphanage concerning its work and needs in 
caring for the children placed there from East Carolina and other 
dioceses. The institution's present expanded activity is known as the 
Episcopal Child Care Services. 

Beginning in 1955 to meet at the same time as the Diocesan 
Convention, the Woman's Auxiliary was not only maintaining but 
expanding its great work of long standing in the Diocese, work that 
had sustained and won the grateful appreciation of each of its bishops 
from Watson to Wright. Under their new name, the Episcopal 
Churchwomen (1958), they supported the missionary and social 
service activities of the Diocese and the National Church at home and 
overseas. Coming to play a more important role in the life of the 
Diocese than they had previously were the Laymen, who from their 
individual service as lay readers, Diocesan and parochial officers and 
committee members since Bishop Watson's time had gradually 
through the years been organized. The Missionary Movement in 1910 
and the example of the Brotherhood of St. Andrew since 1930 had led 
to the formation (1936-1939) of the Laymen's League, which began its 
United Thank Offering in 1941 and was reorganized in 1947 as the 
Laymen's Association and became a division of the Executive Council 
in 1959. Its parochial and Diocesan meetings and projects, such as the 
development of the Bogue Sound Property, have attested to its new 
vitality and won merited recognition. A Camps and Conferences 
Board took over in 1955 the supervision of Camp Leach, which under 
its Committee (later Board of Managers) had developed its plant and 
program despite the ravages of nature. The Board also supervised the 
Hoffman Center on Bogue Sound and in 1956 the new Camp Oceanside 
on Topsail Island, which provided for the colored campers, who had 
previously used Camp Baskerville in South Carolina. East Carolina 
participated in the activities and support of the Lake Kanuga Center 
in the mountains near Hendersonville and its Board of Managers. 

In 1955, the tenth year of his episcopate, Bishop Wright called for 
lay evangelism — "each one sponsor one." A committee was named to 
plan for a diocesan survey to be carried out by the Department of 
Research of the National Council. The raising and support of 
minimum salaries for the missionary clergy in the Diocesan budget 
and with the help of the mission churches themselves were of primary 
concern to the Bishop. He felt that "proper and morally adequate 
level" had not been reached and suggested $4,200 plus rectory and 
pension assessment for single men. (The 1971 Convention voted a 
$7,000 minimum for 1972.) The Episcopal Foundation to provide an 
endowment to carry out the work of the Diocese, especially to aid 
worthy young men and women prepare for religious work and to 
supplement clergy salaries, and to receive and manage property for 
such purposes was revived in 1957 with Will G. Gaither of Elizabeth 
City as president. In 1959 the Foundation received a gift of about 


$100,000 from the estate of the late Rev. and Mrs. Thomas P. Noe. A 
Diamond Jubilee was celebrated in 1958 when the Diocese reached the 
seventy-fifth anniversary of its formation in 1883. A new missionary 
strategy taking into account East Carolina's geography, economy, and 
society and concentrating on one missionary area each year was 
adopted in 1959. The ministry to the especially large and constantly 
changing personnel in the various military establishments within the 
bounds of the Diocese of East Carolina led in 1959 to the creation of the 
Armed Forces Commission. Included within the scope of its concern 
were Fort Bragg and Pope Air Force Base (Fayetteville parishes), 
Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Facility (St. Anne's Church, 
Jacksonville), U. S. Marine Corps Air Station at Cherry Point (St. 
Christopher's Church, Havelock) and the U. S. Coast Guard (Elizabeth 
City parishes). Only now — in 1972 — is the commission being 
discontinued and its functions taken over by the Department of 

Through the years there has stood out the dedicated work of black 
parishes, like St. Cyprian's, New Bern, and St. Mark's, Wilmington, 
and others, large and small; and of black leaders, like Johnson, Kirton, 
Banks, and others, clerical and lay. 

By the 1950's new trends in Christian Education had been 
recognized by Bishop Wright, the chairmen and members of the 
Department of Christian Education together with many among both 
clergy and laity in parish and mission. New emphases and directions 
were in order. Especially needed, it was felt, was a competent Director 
of Christian Education. The Bishop issued the challenge in his annual 
addresses; the Diocesan Convention of 1959 met the challenge by 
providing the necessary funds; and the Department launched its 
reorganized effort with the appointment of Miss Maude Cutler, a 
native of the Diocese with broad experience in Christian Education as 
Director. Her input into the planning and her zealous field work were 
soon evident and appreciated throughout the Diocese. Following Miss 
Cutler's resignation June 1, 1962, the work was ably carried on by the 
Rev. Edwin B. Jeffress, Jr., who took over as Director of Christian 
Education in September of that year after serving the Diocese of 
North Carolina in that capacity for a decade. 

In 1962 a procedure called Voluntary Stewardship was substituted 
for the old quota or apportionment system of financing. The next year 
a program of outreach into areas of world needs known as Mutual 
Responsibility and Interdependence was launched. Much discussion 
and controversy and some re-thinking have resulted from the use of 
Trial Liturgies for Liturgical Renewal in 1971 and 1972. The '70's 
have brought many problems and opportunities with a definite trend 
toward greater participation of laity, women, young people in parish 
and diocesan affairs. 

To the administration of the Diocese, Bishop Wright has brought 
vigor and vision, providing a militant leadership equal to the changing 
conditions of the post-war world. This strength is coupled with a warm 


personal touch that has won for the bishop and Mrs. Wright (Hannah 
Hagans Knowlton, known as "Miss Hannah") and their four children 
the heartfelt response of the people of East Carolina. The Bishop has 
exhorted them to help the Church to meet the challenge of 
Communism, war and human misery. He has spoken of a "moral 
peace" and pointed out the grounds for optimism in the struggle, the 
signs of progress in the midst of apparent defeat or stalemate. He 
believes that the Church has the answer to the world's needs in 
Christianity, if her people will but draw upon her resources, practice 
the gospel and proclaim it to the world courageously. 

In the Diocese, Bishop Wright has called for a personalizing of 
Missions and the Maintenance of unity in difference and free 
discussion, together with an inner peace and quiet confidence. He can 
take satisfaction in the attaining of self-support by the Diocese, in the 
development of an expanded and rather efficient organization for 
carrying on its work, and in a participating people, who, still grounded 
in the historic East Carolina heritage, are adapting to changes, 
broadening their horizons and giving themselves to meeting needs and 
solving complex problems both within and beyond the bounds of the 
Diocese. His personal interest has set the example for the Diocese in 
stepping up the effort in many areas — missions, social service and 
improved race relations on the diocesan and to a degree (with some 
notable instances) on the parochial and community levels, college 
work, work with the armed forces, world peace and relief work. He has 
served the National Church at home and overseas as member of its 
Council, first chairman of the World-Wide Mutual Responsibility 
Commission, and member of numerous boards and committees. In 
twenty-seven years of labor of love and accomplishment he has 
confirmed more than ZfJ^&^candidates and seen the number of 
communicants increase from 8,350 to 11,273 (25%) and the total 
receipts of the Diocese from $84,013.02 to $278,015.77 (230.9%). His 
retirement, while regretted, has been fully earned and he will 
continue one with his people in mutual esteem and affection. 

In smooth transition, the administration is carried on by Bishop 
Elebash, Co-adjutor since 1968, in the line of succession of East 
Carolina bishops, bringing to the office, as did each of his 
predecessors, his own individual style and approach. The new 
Diocesan, Hunley Agee Elebash, was born in Pensacola, Florida, in 
1923, educated at the University of the South, the University of 
Wisconsin, and St. Luke's Seminary at Sewanee. He served in the 
United States Marine Corps 1943-1946, attaining the rank of first 
lieutenant. In 1946 he married Maurine Ashton and they have two 
children. Ordained deacon (1950) and priest (1951) by Bishop Juhan of 
Florida, he served at St. Mark's and St. Stephen's Churches in 
Jacksonville. In 1957 he came to the Diocese of East Carolina as Rector 
of St. John's, Wilmington, and in 1965 was named Executive 
Secretary of the Diocese. Elected Bishop Co-adjutor in June, 1968, he 
was consecrated in October at St. James', Wilmington. 



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Clark, Walter, ed. The State Records of North Carolina (16 vols., 1895-1914). 

Lemmon, Sarah McCulloh, ed. The Pettigrew Papers, I, 1685-1818 (1971). 

Saunders, William L., ed. The Colonial Records of North Carolina (10 vols., 1886-1890). 

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Duncan, Norvin C. Pictorial History of the Episcopal Church in North Carolina, 1701- 
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Malone, Michael T. Levi Silliman Ives: Priest, Bishop, Tractarian, and Roman Catholic 
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